volunteer tree peony seedling

berrytea4me(Z5 CO)November 11, 2007

I was weeding under my tree peony yesterday and kept looking at this weird weed not wanting to pull it until I knew what it was...then I realized that it is a seedling from the peony!

I've never tried to hybridize peony before. How do I take care of the seedling? I've always heard that tree peony are hard to propagate and that's why they are grafted. Will it do well on it's own root? I know with my roses that own root usually grow stronger.

Is it likely to be true to it's parent? I only have 2 of the same variety (It's Kamada, deep purple, I think 'nishiki'-- my $1.99 end of season finds at a local grocery store 10 yrs ago) and 1 'flying circus' herbaceous peony. Can tree peony even cross with the herbaceous variety?

I like happy accidents but am new to this and curious if it's worth the effort or if it might become a fun new part of my gardening hobby.

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$1.99 for a tree peony? WOW! How lucky is that?! I wish I could find that deal.

This link may give you some leads. They are speaking about growing tree peonyh from seeds.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 11:07AM
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I would wait and see. There is a chance it may be growing from the root of your peony, and not be a seedling at all. Al

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 3:51PM
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peonyman(Zone 5, Lawrence, Ks)

I would think it is very likely a tree peony seedling. Most tree peony seeds seem to sprout easily. If you just gather the seeds and get them planted early, as soon as the pods begin to split. I have bunches of seedlings every year. This year will be an exception because of our freak freeze this past spring I didn't make any seed this year. I don't think I have ever seen a seedling from my Kamada Nishiki or Kamada Fuji. I havent tried to plant those seeds. I should though. Both are nice purples. Seeds just seem to get buried while you are weeding and cultivating.

Berry, tree peonies and herbaceous peonies can be crossed but the cross is very difficult. The result is called an intersectional peony. I keep trying to create such a cross and I have only had one success at the cross and I believe the past spring freeze may have killed it, I am still keeping my fingers crossed though. I seriously doubt the seedling will be an intersectional cross, it just does not happen by accident.

As far as caring for the plant it will probably be ok where it is for the time being. If your winters are very cold you need to mulch it to keep the shallow root system from freezing completely out. I would leave it where it is for about 3 years then move to a more permanent location where you should see a first bloom in another few years. Don't expect the characteristics of the seedling to be similar to the parent plant. It could be a completely different color, form, and size. Generally you have a much better chance of getting a worthwhile tree peony from seed than you would getting anything worthwhile from the seed of a herbaceous peony.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 8:49PM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

Thanks for your informative post. When I checked the recommended posts and links in them, although I found wonderful information about hybrids that I had never heard about, regarding the seedling I only found information about how to get seeds to sprout indoors and nothing about how to care for them if you had one growing outside. You've given me a good idea of how to care for it in the garden.

Yes, it's definitely a seedling- very fine stem with a single leaf, not big enough to have been a sucker from the roots of the mother plant.

Assuming I manage to keep it alive through our winters, how big can I expect it to get in 3yrs? It's growing very close to the crown of the mother plant so I'm concerned about them being crowded and difficult to separate later.... though I would be afraid to attempt moving it now since that stem is so fine and fragile I can only assume the roots are similar. It would require a very careful operation at this point.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 2:36AM
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peonyman(Zone 5, Lawrence, Ks)

Dont expect much growth in the first 3 years. I have 3 year seedlings that are not very big. It may depend on the specific plant but I have not seen any tree peonies that really do much growing in the first few years

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 8:55PM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

Aha! I found my garden journal from the year I found these tree peony at the grocery store...planted over 4th of July weekend 1998.

It's not Kamada, it's Shimadai Daijin. There was a pink (Taiyo) that died out first year and one that was labeled as a red but the name was missing. It turned out to be another Daijin. Both of the Diajin survived and bloom nicely every year. The one that put out the seedling is much more vigorous than the other- about double in size. I moved the smaller one this fall to a location where it should get better water.

Thanks for the info, Leon. I won't worry about how close it is to the parent then. I put a collar around it and filled it with dry leaves so hopefully that will be enough winter protection. We've already been in the teens for the past 2 weeks. It's parent had gone dormant but the seedling was still hanging on tight to that single leaf.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 8:45PM
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I am so surprised to hear you have Shimadaigin blooming in Colo. I grew this one for years and it only bloomed once. It always budded so early the buds froze. It was gorgeous though the one time it bloomed. I finally dug it up and planted Kamada Fuji in its place.
I have seedlings come up under my tree peonies all the time. I just leave them where they are, and dig them up when they make a nice bunch of leaves. I have had 3 year old ones bloom. More times than one they have been wine colored, single blooms.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 4:19PM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

Hmm, maybe it's a micro-climate thing. Mine has bloomed faithfully ever since it's 3rd year in the ground even in years where I have terribly neglected it. Buds show up not long after our last hard frost though. I have it planted in the corner with 6' fence on north & west so maybe it's more protected and a little warmer there.

I've recently completed a new landscape so need to move it as it is now in the very back of the border where my tall shrubs need to be. I'll keep your comments in mind as I select it's new location, maybe I'll keep it in the same area just move it forward a bit.

I moved the smaller plant this fall so we'll see how it handles the transplant. Unfortunately I did damage the roots a bit so expect it may spend a few years healing roots. We had frost before the move and the leaves were turning color but had not fully dried. The move made its leaves go dormant a couple weeks earlier than the one I did not move but it also set new growth buds for the spring.

Thanks for sharing about your seedlings. That is encouraging. I can't wait to see it bloom in a couple years.

Merry Christmas!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 10:19AM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

Well, it survived the winter just fine!

I found new bright red leaves emerging on it...and even better...I found another seedling just behind the "mother" plant. They are easy to spot this time of year with their glowing red new growth.

I guess I did not need to mulch the other one. The unprotected seedling did just fine too.

The peony I moved has swelling buds too so looks like it made the move OK.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:20PM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

Wow, now I found a 3rd seedling. This one must have been just a bare stick the first time I looked this spring. By leaf structure & size, it looks to be at least 2 yrs older (so about 3yo) than the one I first found last fall.

The second one I found this spring looks to be 1 yr older (so about 2yo) than the one found last fall.

I think that by the time I found the youngest seedling last fall, the others must have already dropped their leaves so were just "sticks" poking out of the ground. That youngest one has two nice regular shaped leaves this spring as opposed to the incomplete shaped single leaf it went to sleep with last fall.

So, I have 3 seedlings of varying of size. Two, I think, will be large enough to transplant out from under the mother by this fall.

This is so exciting to me. I can hardly wait for first bloom. Is there anything I can do to ensure that happens as soon as possible?

Can anyone show me a picture of what mature/fertile seed pod and seeds look like on a tree peony? Every spring I cut the dried pods off of this "mother plant" not sure whether they have fertile seed or just chaff inside.

I'm really interested in learning about hybridizing on several types of plants. Daylily is my first goal since it is an easy pod set and seed start. I'd also like to try my hand at peony and lilac.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 10:59PM
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About halfway down this page there is a great photo of pod just after opening and of the seeds. Great infor on this page, Les

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Propagate Peonies

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 1:14PM
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